"We started working with a young woman in January 2017 on the Working Futures Program, and although progress was slow to begin with, each engagement saw a little progress. We discovered after many discussions that she would be best suited to outdoor work and preferably with animals.

The Big Help Project has a good link with Knowsley Safari Park, and we contacted them to see if they could arrange any work experience for our client. We explained her background of having been in trouble with the Police, and her family being threatened with eviction by their Landlord due to her anti-social behaviour. The Park Manager carried out a risk assessment, and agreed to offer the young client a few hours with the Sealions Trainer under our supervision.

Our client agreed to go and turned up on the day. It could not have gone any better this young woman followed all instructions given she showered the Sealions in the morning, checked the PH levels of the pool, cleaned the poo from the pool and carried out maintenance work of their display.  We were so proud of her!

The keeper then mentored her with one of the seals, ball throwing, fish feeding and she even allowed the seal to kiss her without too much hesitation. We were amazed at her natural capacity to work with the animals!

The keeper was hugely impressed, and at the end of the experience has offered the client a regular voluntary work placement with her which she agreed to. Since then her one-day per week volunteering has increased to three, and pending continued good behaviour in the community she will be placed on a paid training contract with Knowsley Safari Park at the beginning of June."

Cathy Connolly, Working Futures Caseworker